National Geographic : 1985 Sep
On Assignment "I T CAN'T BE DONE-it's not real," said Sa classics scholar when adventurer Tim Severin set out to trace the mythical voyage of Jason and the Golden Fleece. But three months after launching from Greece in May 1984, Severin and his modern Argonauts reached Jason's destination, today's Soviet Georgia. In the Black Sea port of Poti, Geor gians welcomed Severin (right,bottom) with flowers and song. "I never realized," he said, "how much the story of Jason remains alive in Georgian tradition." Literary and pictorial evidence of early Ae gean ships guided the design of Severin's Argo, built of pine by a Greek shipwright. Decora tions on ancient pottery inspired her painted hull. Her sail, here hoisted in Soviet waters (above), bears stylized Mycenaean warriors. Rowing for more than half the journey, crew members averaged 300,000 strokes; blisters never had a chance to heal (right,top). Born in India and educated in England and the U. S., Severin has traveled in the wake of such explorers as St. Brendan of Ireland (De cember 1977) and Sindbad the Sailor (July 1982). This navigator in search of the past now sets his sights on the wanderings of Ulysses.